Math and Mommy Meltdowns

I can’t remember a time when I’ve cried in front of my children because I was so frustrated with homeschooling. But I suppose there is a first time for everything.

Two weekends ago, I attended the Philippine Homeschool Conference. The Monday after, I was full of hopeful expectation. After listening to inspiring talks and workshop speakers, I eagerly began the week thinking that all would go well. Furthermore, our family housed one of the speakers – a pastor who told endless stories about parenting and homeschooling his 10 kids. (Yes, 10.) His wonderful recollections about their farm life and the Christ-centered culture of their family fueled me with aspirations about the kind of homeschooling experience Edric and I ought to have with our kids.

However, on Monday my kids woke up de-motivated, disinterested, and difficult to teach. The older boys whined about the amount of work they had to get done. Tiana struggled with comprehension issues as we did her Singapore math.

I know the bonds thing can be difficult to understand in Singapore Math (like when you separate 10s from 1s when you are subtracting), but I thought for sure Tiana would have at least remembered what “ + “ and “ – “ mean. We had been doing addition and subtraction for a while so it surprised me when I asked her simple questions like, “So what’s 7 – 2?” and she answered with uncertainty, guessing her way to the right solution.

This went on for a few more math problems. And she kept confusing addition and subtraction and couldn’t add past 10. Then she forgot what the = sign stood for, too. My thought bubble was, You’re kidding me. This isn’t happening! Arghhh!!!

My other kids heard the stress in my voice as I interrogated Tiana several times. “Why can’t you get it? You know this already. This is not complicated.”

I wanted to scream but of course I couldn’t do that. During the conference I gave a seminar along side my mom about laying the right foundation for homeschooling and I encouraged parents not to yell at their kids…primarily because it renders us ineffective at teaching them to love God due to hypocrisy. So the frustration emerged via my tears. Burying my face in my arms and laying my head on the table, I busted out crying.

The room turned quiet. Seeing me cry while teaching was peculiar for my kids to witness. There was a moment when no one knew how to respond. Everyone paused what they were doing until I lifted my head, tears running down my cheeks and declared, “I’m a horrible teacher! I don’t know what to do! I can’t teach well. Tiana just can’t get it and I don’t understand why…” Part of me mouthed this out just to get my children’s sympathy and attention. This isn’t a tactic I recommend to homeschooling parents because it can be manipulative.

Poor Tiana looked on, no doubt embarrassed that I singled her out like this in front of her siblings, and shocked that her math book brought me to tears. My boys felt anxious and attempted to comfort me.

Elijah patted my back with one arm, and stretched out the other arm like a shield to ward off Catalina who was fast approaching me. “No, don’t disturb, mommy, Catalina.” He motioned to give me space.

Edan whispered, “I’ll help teach her, mom,” and he began to fold white paper to make flashcards for her. (What a sweetie!)

How could I react this way to such tender-hearted children? I love my kids. I love them even if they don’t “perform” academically. But I certainly didn’t make Tiana feel that way. And I’m sure the boys were burdened with guilt for complaining about their homeschool work that morning.

It didn’t make sense to continue math lessons with Tiana, especially on the topic of addition and subtraction using bonds, so I asked her to take a break. (Later on, I had to talk with her and apologized for hurting her feelings.) We all dismissed for lunch not too long after and I had time to process what triggered my meltdown.  

Maybe you can relate…

1. My expectations were high having come from the Philippine Homeschool Conference over the weekend. I wanted my kids to behave like perfect students – good attitudes, energized, and eager to listen to me and to learn. When they fell short of this expectation, I felt resentful.

2. I was relying on myself. I didn’t pause to pray or seek help from the Lord when the frustration built up. Had I translated circumstances from a spiritual perspective, I would have concluded that this was an opportunity to beseech the Lord and humble myself.

3. Tiana was being pressured to do math work that she wasn’t ready for. Even if it was required of her level, she simply hadn’t had enough concrete reinforcement for learning addition and subtraction, and she hadn’t had enough practice. Instead of insisting that she remember and “get it,” I should have said, “It’s okay, let’s do some reviewing first and then we will return to this lesson.”

Well, the next day, that’s exactly what I did. I set Tiana’s required math book aside. Eventually I intended to come back to it, but we needed to take a few steps back to give her more time to get comfortable with counting (backwards and forwards), and easy addition and subtraction.

Amazingly, she breezed through the work I gave her to do without needing much supervision from me. After a few days of remedial lessons she no longer confused her addition and subtraction symbols and she very ably solved her math problems.

Ironically, I advise parents to do the same thing when I give seminars on homeschooling. Don’t ignore the gaps in your child’s learning. Mind these gaps and backtrack if necessary. However, I wasn’t willing to take this advice myself! I wanted Tiana to be like her brothers, who easily understood arithmetic at her age. But God designed her differently. It’s me who has to adjust and accommodate her uniqueness, and to appreciate the pace at which she is learning concepts and skills.

Although we normally perceive U-turns and backtracking as inconvenient interruptions on the way to our academic goals, sometimes our kids need to go backwards in order to move forward. When our kids feel lost and insecure about tackling a lesson because they don’t have foundational skills or a solid grasp of the content to go further, then it’s our job to equip them by patiently addressing their gaps so they can progress towards where they ought to be. It’s a deterrent to their progress to force them to learn what they are not prepared to. And it drives us nuts to do so anyway!

To deal with the issue of my other kids who were complaining that Monday, I finally printed out their revised weekly schedules so they know exactly what to expect each day of the week. I’ve thought through the mix of activities and lessons they have to cover as well, so there is a good mix of rigor and fun.

How about me? What can I improve on as a homeschooling mom? I can think of 10 things! But I will focus on the one issue that is related to my Monday experience. I shouldn’t get my sense of identity or self-worth from homeschooling. Even though I’m so invested as a mom, putting in the time and making sacrifices to teach my kids, I shouldn’t let the outcome of each homeschooling day dictate my joy and peace. There will be good days and bad days. Therefore, joy and peace ought to flow from my relationship with God, resulting in my ability to channel these to my children so I can bless them and minister to them. Then I can teach them the way I ought to even when the circumstances aren’t favorable.

More importantly, my job is not to churn out trophy kids as a tribute to myself. My job is to teach them what it means to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to model this everyday. It is to train them and prepare their hearts and minds to serve God and His purposes.


In light of these aims, what is one Monday when my daughter can’t understand her Singapore Math or my kids groan over their books? Rather than shedding dramatic tears to express my frustration because my children aren’t doing what I want them to, these instances provide me with an opportunity to ask God to show up and take over. If I let Him take over me and take over my kids then He accomplishes His agenda for that day, and it becomes a good day!

Over the past week and a half, I haven’t seen exceptional homeschool days. It’s still hard work to homeschool five kids. But God has saved me from math meltdown situations because I’ve changed my perspective. There may be homeschooling obstacles too big for me, but certainly not for Him! Let’s rest in that thought, moms!

Cultivate a Culture of Grace 

Edric and I come under spiritual attack before almost every major ministry event we are involved in. One can argue that all life ought to be a ministry when you are a follower of Christ. However, the reality is there are certain activities that we participate in that make us more vulnerable than others.

For example, last weekend we had a huge homeschooling conference that we were both involved in. We were speakers for this conference at different points in the program. My topic was on laying a foundation for children’s future success. I spoke alongside my mom. Edric played an integral role as one of the core team members spearheading the event.

Any time we are part of an activity that focuses on marriage or parenting we tend to have an argument or an issue related to these areas during the week preceding it. There weren’t any hitches until Thursday when Edric and I had a conflict about mismanaged expectations and poor communication. One of our speakers was to arrive from the U.S. that evening. So we had to send our vehicle back to the office so the driver could pick him up.

After a meeting during lunch, Edric and I agreed to leave soon after so we could make it home early enough to give the driver a gracious window to deal with the traffic. For some reason, Edric heard the wrong information from me and expected me to get him at the office. I thought we discussed that I would wait for him with the kids at my parents’ house.

My big mistake was leaving my phone on silent mode so I couldn’t hear the four calls that Edric made to me as he panicked to determine my location. (I must confess that this has been a need-to-improve-on area for me.) Since I was so focused on finishing the slides of my presentation for the conference, I missed all of Edric’s calls.

He arrived at my parents’ house flustered because we were running late. He rushed the kids out the door so we could speedily head home. The children scurried to put their shoes and socks on, and that moment of frenzy heightened the tense atmosphere that we entered into as we all piled into our vehicle. Edric, anxious to avoid making our foreign guest wait at the airport, was emotionally charged. He corrected me in front of the kids which is something he usually avoids doing.

Naturally, my instinct was to counter his statements to favor my own position. However the kids were in the car, taking in the scene unfolding before them, and I worried that they would learn to be combative in a disrespectful way if I challenged Edric at that moment. Thankfully, God quietly and gently brought me back to the passage I read that morning: “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.” (Proverbs‬ ‭17:14) In other words, Joy, keep your mouth shut.

This verse spared me today! Instead of answering back and raising my voice, a scene that I played out in my head several times, I resorted to prayer and apologizing for not answering my phone. Then I just prayed that Edric would realize that he sounded angry in front of the kids.

It’s amazing how much quicker the Holy Spirit is able to speak to Edric than I am! My yakking rarely penetrates his heart in a positive way. But when it’s the Holy Spirit at work, real transformation takes place.

After a while, Edric quieted down. He must have remembered that the kids were watching and listening intently to every word and movement he made in the front seat. So he humbly and sincerely apologized to the kids and to me. I praise God that he is so often this way — willing to say sorry.

In a matter of twenty or so minutes, the conflict had begun and died down without engagement. In a strangely abrupt sort of way, Edric caught himself before his ire escalated into a more impassioned and fiery speech about inefficiency, bad planning, and not picking up phone calls.

One of our sons remarked, “Wow, that was fast, dad!”, alluding to his humble apology.

Two more times afterwards and while we were at home, Edric gently pulled me aside to talk about what went wrong and how we could both improve. He wanted to make sure I was alright, too. I really appreciated that. Edric has always been sincere about his apologies which dissipates whatever hurt I have.

After Edric and I resolved our conflict, I also processed the incident with the kids, explaining to them, “In marriage husbands and wives are not perfect. We make mistakes sometimes, and we do things that hurt each other. But when you have Christ in your marriage, He helps you to forgive one another and love one another.”

I used to have this unrealistic expectation about my marriage and family, that Edric and I wouldn’t make mistakes in front of our children that they could potentially imitate. My great fear as a parent was that our failures, if visible to them, would give them an excuse to follow our wrong choices, rendering us ineffective at teaching and training them to love and follow God. However, I witnessed today, as I have many times, that grace is more powerful than our failures. This doesn’t mean we should trample upon it and take sin lightly. However, it does give me hope and peace to know that when Edric and I fall short of God’s standards for righteousness, we receive God’s grace to heal and repair what is broken. And our kids see this in action.

The bonus is we also receive grace from our children by way of their understanding and forgiveness when we come before them to admit our wrong and acknowledge our need for Christ. Somehow this assures our children that they can be “in process” as well, not impossibly perfect, but on the way to becoming more like Christ.

No family can survive without God’s grace. And it’s foolish and prideful to think that human perfection is what will convince our children that Jesus Christ is worth following. The reality is, we will fail each other as husband, wife, parent or child. We will do things that hurt one another. So it’s really not a question of whether this will happen but how we will respond.

As the offender will we humble ourselves and seek to repair our relationship with those we have wounded, and commit to improve? As the offended will we accept the apology without making the person “suffer” for their mistake? As a witness will we suspend judgment and avoid taking offense for the wronged?

Humanly speaking, it’s counterintuitive to answer these questions in the affirmative. Our carnal instincts would persuade us to do the opposite. However when a family cultivates a culture of grace, where the pursuit of Christ-likeness is encouraged and prioritized but people aren’t rejected for their failures, then each member is compelled to choose humility, forgiveness, and love instead. Although I used to think that perfection would motivate our kids to love and follow God, I am realizing over and over again that it’s seeing and experiencing the power of His grace is more compelling to them.

On a sweet note, Edric hugged me last night after our crazy October schedule simmered down a bit and he said, “I want to be a better husband and father. And I am sorry for being on edge this past week.” He didn’t need to say that because Thursday’s incident had been resolved, but it was a nice plus.

Let me leave you with 2 Corinthians 13:11,14, which we can pray for our families: “Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you…The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”

Let’s pray this for our families! We all need grace! 

Let’s Be Motivating Parents!

I sat through the homeschool conference yesterday particularly inspired by the talk Andrew Pudewa gave on motivation. He shared four types, three laws, and two keys of motivation that made so much sense in the context of homeschooling, raising kids, and dealing with employees that I have to pass these on to you.

For a person to be motivated there is an intangible thing called relevance that must be present. If something is interesting, meaningful, practical, and valuable to a child, they will be motivated to learn about it and do it. Conversely, the absence of relevance makes it difficult to teach a child.

Pudewa defines four forms of relevancy:

Intrinsic Relevancy. Most of us are innately curious and interested in particular topics, activities, and pursuits. For example, my son, Edan enjoys playing the piano. I don’t have to remind him to practice for his weekly lessons. He goes down every morning and plays his pieces without being asked to because he is interested in learning how to play the piano.

To capitalize on the natural curiosity and interest of my kids, I give them the liberty to go in-depth into subject areas that they want to explore further. (Of course this implies that their curiosity and interest is NOT directed towards harmful things.) But take for example, chemistry. When Elijah expressed a liking for chemistry as a 5th grader, I didnt wait for him to be the appropriate school age to learn it. I bought him books on chemistry and he devoured these. He even memorized the periodic table of elements without me requiring him to. 


If a child is able to explore a subject they like, they learn more about it than you can ever imagine they will. In the process, they also learn concepts related to the subject that cover other areas of study.

Pudewa said something like this: Learning should bring children to the subjects. Subjects shouldnt dictate when learning ought to take place. Our problem is we want to cover all the bases, which is impossible. If a teacher attempts to cover all the bases, a child will be a mile wide, and a quarter deep, and will know nothing about everything. Therefore, whatever seed God has planted in our childrens hearts, let’s water it.

Inspired Relevancy. Even if we don’t have a natural curiosity or interest in a topic, activity or pursuit, this changes when we spend time with someone we love or respect whose interest is inspiring.

Growing up, I didn’t have as much a love for the word of God as I ought to have. However, I saw my father pouring over his Bible for hours every morning. Because I had such high regard for my dad, I wondered why in the world he committed so much time to reading his Bible. His love for Gods Word inspired the interest to develop in me. I thought to myself, If the Bible is so important to dad (and mom), then there must be something about it that is meaningful enough to matter to me, too. Today, I read the Bible because it is relevant to my own life. But it began with inspired relevancy and not intrinsic relevancy.

Some years ago, Elijah, our eldest son, became interested in investing in stocks. He discovered investing when he watched one of Edrics TV episodes on personal finance. So at 9 years old, he asked his dad if he can learn more about stocks. Edric took Elijah to a seminar where he learned how to research about stocks and how to set up his own fund.

Edan, our second son, was never interested in stocks, even when he saw Elijah get into it. However, when he realized that Elijah was making money through stocks investing, he wanted to compete with him. As a result, he developed a curiosity for stocks as well. Today, Elijah and Edan are both “young investors.”

Intrinsic relevancy can be positive or negative, especially in the peer-influence-sense. If our children associate with other children who are bad influences on them, they will adapt their values. So we need to pray and teach our children to select friends and surround themselves with peers who love God and seek after Him.

One of the challenges of inspired relevancy when homeschooling is motivating our kids to learn a subject that we aren’t excited about or experts at. This is where we have to utilize other homeschooling parents or resources that will inspire our kids to learn. I’ve had to do this with my kids Filipino subject. I don’t know how to teach this subject well and my own struggles with the language put my kids at a disadvantage. So I invested in Rosetta Stone Tagalog program. It’s an online program that my kids actually enjoy doing, And because they enjoy it, they are learning much more effectively than when I was teaching them.

Contrived Relevancy. This form of motivation is about taking something that is not relevant and using the mechanics of a game to make it relevant. The components of the game have to include two things: The possibility of winning, and the potential of gain and loss (an economic principle that works in real life).

One of the ways I do this with my kids is giving them incentives for completing their work. I’ve explained this in previous posts. I use a tab system for the kids. If they complete X number of pages, they get a tab (those colorful Post Its). Their books are marked with tabs for the quarter or semester. So they can go as fast as they want to in order to earn more tabs or they can do just the minimum (2 to 3 pages), to get at least one tab for that subject, for that day. If they don’t do at least 2 to 3 pages, however, they cannot claim a prize from the mystery jar. By the end of each week, the kids can turn in their tabs to redeem prizes and draw from the mystery jar. If they don’t get at least 20 tabs, they don’t get to draw.


Pudewa explained that the idea of a game appeals particularly to boys who thrive when competition is involved because they like to win! I’ve got three boys so I absolutely believe this!

Enforced Relevancy. This method of motivating kids is what we often use to get our kids to do their homeschooling work, but it is the least effective at producing real learning.

Most kids who go to school are terrorized by the idea that they can’t fail on their exams because these exams carry so much weight both for their class standing and for the approval of their parents. As a result, they study painstakingly for exam week in order to get a good grade. However, little is retained afterwards. They simply study for testing season.

Homeschool kids can be forced into the same mindset when we require them to learn just because they have to.Theres zero inspiration for the child. Since they aren’t engaged, they arent likely to recall what they learn either. They may appear studious and busy at work but nothing is really transferring into long-term memory storage. As much as possible, we need to avoid enforced relevancy.

Let’s move on to the 3 laws of motivation:

Children like to do what they can do, what they think they are good at. I’ve complimented Titus many times for his natural capacity to understand math. He now believes it comes easily for him so he claims that math is one of his favorite subjects. If I hand him his math book, he will readily take it and complete the pages he needs to, rarely asking me for assistance. The trick is, we need to give our kids plenty of opportunity to do what they excel at.


Children want to do what they think they can do. Elijah does a whole lot of complicated programming on the computer. He began with a basic understanding of programming and moved up to higher levels of coding because he experienced enough successes to convince him that he could actually do this. I never said, “That’s way too hard for someone your age to attempt.” I let him believe that he could do it because I saw that he had a bent for it. Hes built a couple of apps since he first started learning the language of computers.

Children hate and refuse to do that which they believe they cannot do. This is usually due to a record of failure, as Pudewa likes to call it. I didn’t like math as a student, primarily because I didn’t think I was any good at it. I struggled in this area in high school. As a result, I had mental blocks. Even if problems were explained to me clearly, I didn’t have confidence in my ability to solve them. However, as a homeschool mom, I’ve had to revisit many math concepts and relearn them. Since I had to start with preschool, I got myself a more solid foundation in arithmetic. And Ive come to realize that I can actually be good at math after all, that I can actually like math! What changed my perspective on math? My level of competency and filling in the gaps that I missed out on as a student.

As a homeschool mom, I cannot force my kids to move on to more difficult concepts, especially in math, unless I help them master the preceding ones. I’ve had to do this with Edan. When Edan doesn’t like to do math its usually because he feels like he can’t do it. So I have to spend time going over every topic he doesnt like until he realizes that its not as difficult as it seems. Then his face will light up and he will say, Thanks mom! I get it now! and I can leave him alone to finish the lesson.

Tiana had a hard time understanding how to decode words in order to read. Instead of forcing her to be at her level, I had to patiently work her up where she ought to be by going back to learning letters and their sounds. We had to practice and practice these until she memorized them, and then we moved on to attempt reading. Now, she is an emerging reader who has experienced enough successes to read not just her leveled readers, but signs, posters, and words she sees in her environment.


In Pudewas words: If you can spend most of the time allowing kids to do something that they can do 60% of the time, and 40% of the time doing what they think they can do, you will have a 100% motivated child.

Lastly, the two secret weapons of motivation are my favorites! Pudewa tells parents to acknowledge and appreciate, and then to smile! If a student knows that he or she is loved, they will be motivated.

When Pudewa was a violin student under THE Mr. Suzuki in Japan, he marveled at how often his teacher commended students, even for the little things. My mom used to say that parents ought to have a detectives eye for positive character in their kids. Whatever we can compliment in them, lets be generous about it. When we deposit into their emotional bank accounts, we build up enough principle to live off the interest, says Pudewa.

Homeschooling parents have a great opportunity to communicate messages of security to their kids because of the time factor. We have so much time with our kids which means we have so many moments to speak life into them and affirm how much we love them. Lets make those moments count, and lets do so with our brightest, sincerest smiles. A smile while homeschooling our kids will put them at ease. It communicates the message, Im enjoying this time with you. What child wouldnt be motivated by that?!

If you want to read more about Andrew Pudewa’s insights on motivation, check out this link:http://iew.com/sites/default/files/article/fileattachment/art_and_science_of_motivation.pdf

Hedgehog & Gameboard Issues & God’s Love 

Since three days ago Edan has obsessed about a game called Sushi Go! Party, hunting for it on Internet board game sights, Amazon, and even local stores. If Elijah is into technology and computer programming, Edan’s equivalent is strategy board games. He is a game lover. His idea of a great day is to gather friends and family around a fun board game that he can facilitate for them.

Since the game is difficult to source and order, it came down to one place — gamewright.com. Unfortunately, my many attempts to purchase it were inhibited by my address. The site didn’t allow purchases from the Philippines through Pay Pal or credit card. I could have moved on and forgotten all about the game, but not Edan. He pushed himself so hard this week, studying to earn tabs (a system I use to motivate my kids). As a result, he collected 60+ tabs, enough to merit the reward of Sushi Go! Party.

Edan isn’t an extravagant person, nor is he demanding when he makes a request for a toy or book. But when he really likes something, he will find a way to get it. I think this is a good trait when the desire is channeled to something positive.

For example, two years ago, he had a fascination for carnivorous plants and took the initiative to research about them online and source a supplier based out of Bukidnon.

This year, strategy board games have been his new interest. He has been researching about strategy games. I thought it was an interest that could be encouraged because it required him to apply, logic, math, communication, and social skills. 

So I put in a lot of effort to find the game, to support Edan, and the best solution was to ask my sister, Candy, to buy it for me since she lives in the US. The plan was to have it brought to Manila through my youngest sister, Carolyn, who is visiting her. Edan hoped to get the game by Tuesday when his Aunt Carolyn arrived. He dreamed and imagined what that day would be like, so much so that he couldn’t rest. All he could think about was Sushi Go! Party

His single-mindedness was both fascinating and concerning. On the one hand, I was excited for him to have the game. On the other hand, I wondered if there was a bigger character lesson he needed to learn…specifically related to waiting and patience. I would remind him, “Edan, if we can’t buy the game then take that as an opportunity to practice waiting.” 

He agreed with me. But since he knew that I asked his Aunt Candy to purchase it on my behalf, he felt pretty certain that waiting wouldn’t be something he had to do. 

Well, today, when he woke up, two unpleasant incidents occurred to produce what he called, “The worst day of his life.” 

First, one of our hedgehogs, named Eve, went missing. She left a trail of dung down the steps to our lower ground storage area, so logically, she must have hidden herself behind one of the boxes. The kids searched everywhere and returned to the kitchen table for breakfast worried and baffled by her mysterious exodus. She had disappeared. 
Edric gave them an impromptu lesson on the importance of good stewardship and responsibility. The hedgehogs fell under Edan’s care so he felt the most distressed. He didn’t get to go with his brothers to play a game called Praxis with Edric because he was tasked to find Eve. 

The second and bigger disappointment for Edan came when I relayed to him the message I received from my sister, Candy, informing me that Sushi Go! Party wouldn’t arrive on time for Carolyn to bring to Manila. Edan began to cry. He hid behind one of the cereal boxes to conceal himself but everyone knew that he was upset about the game. 

I reminded Edan that he ought to be grateful that the game was purchased in the first place since that was a blessing in itself. Furthermore, his Aunt Candy had inconvenienced herself to do this for him. Third, the game would arrive eventually, just not next week. He mustered a thank you but I know he remained troubled. 

Most of the early morning was spent searching for missing Eve. She was found a few hours later, huddled quietly behind some old tiles, clueless about the panic she caused. I praise God that cats didn’t get her! She was returned to her husband, Adam. Problem #1 solved. 

Even so, Edan lounged lazily around on the couch in our bedroom, uninspired to do anything today. He isn’t the type to voluntarily express his feelings so I had to command him to sit beside me so we could talk.

I hugged him while he explained how disappointed he was and how awful the day was as the tears kept falling down his cheeks. He admitted to me that the Sushi Go! Party game had become a sort of “idol” to him, when I explained to him what idolatry is. And I also shared that things can’t replace the joy we find in Christ. Material things, people, and circumstances can offer a measure of happiness but these are temporal and passing. In the end, there’s no one and nothing that can fully satisfy us but Christ. A part of me wondered if I was delivering too heavy message to such a young boy, but Edan listened. 

I went on to say that he can open up to me about anything, that he shouldn’t be afraid to tell me his feelings. It was okay that he felt sad about today. I was going to judge him.

He seemed to relax and then he added, “Actually there’s something that I wanted to say…”

I waited. He took a moment.

“When I read my Bible today, I came across a Psalm that talked about the loving kindness of God.”

Edan began to sob. 

“You know, mom, I felt like God didn’t love me. This was the worst day ever because of Eve getting lost and then the news about the game. So I felt really bad and then when I went to read my Bible, the first passage I read was this.”

He pointed it out to me…

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.” Psalms‬ ‭103:8‬ ‭

“When I read that, I felt like God was speaking to me, telling me that He really loves me.” 

Edan was really crying at this point. He felt like God was against him today but God dispelled that thought by assuring him that He loved Him, that circumstances aren’t to be the basis for interpreting God’s love. 

So Edan and I continued our conversation, this time focusing on what God’s love is really like. We talked about how God’s love need not be proven by the things He gives us. These are all a bonus compared to the gift of His Son, Jesus. When He gave us Christ, He gave us everything. We are His children, His resources are infinite, and heaven is our home. So when He withholds something we really long to have or when circumstances don’t seem to go well for us, we need to trust that this is what is best for us, according to the One who loves us. 

By the end of our dialogue, Edan was smiling through his tears. He realized that today’s disappointments gifted him with an opportunity to encounter the Lord in a personal way today. 

We spent the rest of the morning doing art instead of pouring over books. Edan described it as therapeutic. He drew and painted a dragonfly among other drawing skills. His gloom and doom disposition was replaced with joy. 


I am so thankful to the Lord that He is at work in the lives of each of my kids. He knows exactly what is going on in their hearts, and He intends to meet them and minister to them. But Edric and I have to keep encouraging our kids to read His Word. The truth is what gave Edan the right perspective today. 


“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews‬ ‭4:12‬ 

In the midst of what felt like turmoil for him, he went to the word of God and received the assurance he needed most…Not that his hedgehog would be found or that his desired Sushi Go! Party game would come on time, but that God loves him. Thank you, Lord! 

On a sweet note, he also told me that he felt much better after talking to me. Let’s all be good listeners to our kids, my mommy friends! 

When Older Boys Are Uninspired to Study 

Friday morning started out like pulling teeth from my two older sons. Elijah and Edan grumbled, complained, and resisted being told what to do for their homeschooling work today. I have encountered moments like this before and it’s never easy to think through how I should respond. Part of me wanted to lay down the hammer and bully them into obeying. The other part knew there were better ways to inspire the right behavior in them. 

I invited them into their bedroom for a conference. “You (Elijah) and you (Edan), in the bedroom now.” 

They didn’t resist and followed me into their room where I motioned for them to sit across from me on one end of Titus’ bed. I took the other end. 

“What’s the problem, boys?” I asked this in the most gentle way I could.

One replied, “My work is too hard.” 

“Is that the real problem? What’s the REAL problem?” 

“We have a bad attitude?”

“Nope. That’s a problem but that’s not the REAL problem.” 

I paused, hoping they would apply some critical thinking and accurately assess themselves. Their mopey faces told me they weren’t going to get to that point. So, I volunteered the answer. 

“The real problem is what’s going on in your hearts. I don’t want to force you to do your work. Your motivation should be to please God.”

By then Edan was tearing, half-concealing his face behind a pillow. Elijah struggled to keep himself together.

I didn’t want to lecture too much, but I had to add, “The second thing is, you need to develop the discipline of hard work. Pushing yourself to accomplish a task is good for your character. Don’t expect your responsibilities to always be easy. Someday when you are older, you can’t run away from hard work, you can’t just give up on tasks. So you need to train yourself now.”

The boys were stewing in their emotions. They didn’t like that statement. I let them be and encouraged them to take some time to pray. “Come back to the study room when you are ready, with the right heart and attitude, and with a smile. Until then, just stay here and talk to the Lord. It’s okay to take your time.” 

I hugged them and returned to the rest of my kids. 

Although I refrain from shouting at my kids when they are difficult to teach, I do feel like crying and locking myself in my room to have a pity party at times. It hurts and saddens me when they are disrespectful or demotivated. 

However, homeschooling can’t be about me, even though I would like to voice that out and say, “Look, it’s not easy for me to homeschool five of you. I get tired and upset, and there are days when I don’t feel like it, so get over your attitudes and do what I ask you to!” 

Although it’s tempting to yell that out, I absolutely can’t. I mean, I can, but it won’t address the real heart issues in my kids. Slouchy postures, groans, huffing and puffing, complaining, and smart-alecky responses from them incite my irritation but I have to quell this in favor of a spirit-filled reaction. Thankfully, my kids don’t act out their negativity often, but there are days when I have to force the anger down so I can effectively disciple my kids.

One of the biggest factors influencing my desire to control the anger is this: I don’t want to model hypocrisy to my kids. I don’t want to tell my kids to love God and obey God, and then yell at them in frustration because they aren’t homeschooling in the manner I expect them to. Hypocrisy snuffs out faith in children. 

I wish I could claim to have a spotless record with my kids…that they have never seen me lose my temper. However, I can’t truthfully say that. 

There are days when I get annoyed at Tiana for forgetting what I have taught her, when I lecture Titus for failing to stay focused, when I let out an exasperated sigh because Catalina is disturbing the quiet, or when I threaten my older boys with confiscated gadgets to manipulate them into compliance. I praise God these unkind reactions aren’t the norm, and that’s because of Christ and not me. But my kids have witnessed enough evidence to conclude that their mom has her character flaws! 

Howeber, I praise God that He calms me down with the reminder that I am called to be an example to my kids. He also brings to my attention passages like, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs‬ ‭15:1‬) 

More importantly, the WHY of my homeschooling supersedes the day to day upsets of unmet academic goals and unfulfilled expectations. If I succeed at educating my kids in the head but fail to instruct their hearts then I fail them as a homeschool mom. My greater purpose for homeschooling my kids is to teach them to love God and to glorify Him which is why stressful encounters with my kids can’t bring out the monster in me!

So my encouragement to all homeschooling moms out there is to welcome the interruptions that require us to address the heart issues in our kids. Although our instinct may be to resent them, these are opportunities that God brings our way to accomplish the greater work we have as mothers. By God’s grace, the boys came back to diligently finish their work with good attitudes after they prayed and sorted through their emotions. So the academics did get done in the end but not at the expense of my relationship with my kids or their relationship with the Lord. 

“When it comes to my children, my ultimate goal for them is heaven, not Harvard. If they go to the latter on their way to heaven, that’s great. But if I reverse that equation, I’ve failed them.” ~Barbara Frank

Support and Encouragement for Your Homeschooling

If you are considering homeschooling, in the trenches of it, or seeking to be a more intentional parent, then you will need all the support and encouragement you can get. 

I remember a season when I struggled to teach my oldest son, Elijah, how to write well. Thankfully, I found a writing program called Institute for Excellence in Writing by Andrew Pudewa — Student Writing Intensive Course levels A to C. 

This program introduces kids to the basics of good writing and works them up to a level of excellence that is remarkable. The focus is on structure and style. Kids learn how to express themselves clearly and creatively.

Although I am an avid writer I wasn’t able to inspire the same sort of interest in my kids. I needed help. Pudewa’s material changed this for my boys.

Today, my two boys, Elijah and Edan, use this for the writing component of their Language Arts curriculum. They are thoroughly enjoying it, too, which is an answer to prayer! 

Sometimes the kind of help we need when homeschooling is a skill or resource to supplement an area where we can’t teach a subject or material effectively. Yet, most of the time, what we really need is perspective from others who understand the challenges and unique adventures that come with being a home school parent.

This is exactly what the Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands (HAPI) intends to offer parents this October 22, 2016, as it collaborates with Educating for Life to mount the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016 at the SMX Hall in SM Aura. 

There’s no perfect homeschool parent. We all have our strengths and we come with our weaknesses too. And that’s why we benefit from the victories and insights of others. Furthermore, it’s important to stay connected to other homeschooling families and foster community. This is something we are in together, and going the distance means we have to look out for one another, too.

I am particularly looking forward to this homeschool conference because Andrew Pudewa will be a keynote speaker. His contributions to the larger homeschooling movement have been so valuable. Furthermore, he has had a significant impact on our family’s homeschooling journey. 

It must have been 10 years ago when my husband, Edric, told me about a lecture he attended where Andrew Pudewa spoke on how boys and girls learn differently. Some years later, I met Andrew Pudewa at the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) Conference in Branson, Missouri. Early this year, Edric and I were introduced to him again during the Global Home Education Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

Pudewa delivered a very insightful talk on how conventional schools are an outmodeled form of education in this day and age. He presented compelling reasons to support why homeschooling makes sense given that we have advanced past the Industrial Age and are presently in the Information Age. (He also has great homeschool material on public speaking.) 

He is a gifted communicator and musician, and he is a well-known and sought after speaker in the homeschooling world of America. During the conference, he will focus on motivating children. (He will also have pre-conference workshops). Whether it’s getting them to write, read a book, or finish a task, motivation is important.

“Children like to do what they can do, they want to do what they think they can do, and they hate to do what they think they cannot do. If you want excited and enthusiastic children who learn well, you must understand these key laws of motivation and focus on the essential element of relevancy. If it matters, children will learn it, and if it doesn’t, they won’t.”


ANDREW PUDEWA- Keynote Speaker

Besides Andrew Pudewa there will be other keynote speakers like Bo Sanchez, my mom (Deonna Tan-Chi) and yours truly. I am nervous and excited! Please pray for me! Of course there will be a host of  great workshop speakers who will cover specific issues and concerns about homeschooling, too. Here’s what to expect during the PHC 2016:

PROGRAM

7:00-9:00 – Registration 

9:00-9:15 – Welcome remarks 

Keynote Sessions:

9:15-10:00 – Building a Firm Foundation by Deonna Tan-Chi and Joy Mendoza 

10a:00-10:20Strengthening the Foundation Through Financial Planning* by Eric Nicdao 

10:20-10:30 – Raffle 

10:30-11:15Motivation – The Art and Science of Helping Students Learn Well by Andrew Pudewa 

11:15-11:25 – Raffle 

11:25-12:10pm – Wings to Soar: Leaving a Legacy for our Children by Sanchez 

12:10-12:20 – Raffle 

12:20-2:00 – Lunch Break / Expo visit 

Workshop Options: 

2:00-2:45 The Ins and Outs of Homeschooling in the Philippines by Edric Mendoza OR Transitioning from Brick and Mortar to Homechooling by Jenn Punzalan OR Homeschooling the High School Years by Raquel Guevara  

2:45-3:00 – Mobilize to next session 

3:00-3:45Laying the Foundation in Preschool by Milona Barraca OR Paper and Pen: How “Low Tech” Reading and Writing Benefit Students* by Andrew Pudewa OR  Transitioning to College by Ivy and Bernard Marquez 

3:45-4:00 – Mobilize to next session 

4:00-4:45Starting Your Homeschool Journey by Donna Simpao OR The Hows of Interest-Led Homeschooling by Alex Hao OR Homeschooling the Special Needs Child by Jen Bellosillo 

4:45-5:30 – Break / Expo visit 

5:30-6:00 – Major raffle prizes / Closing Remarks 

*Subject to change

For more information, check out Keynote and breakout sessions
KIDS’ ACTIVITIES

There will be various activities for children of all ages should you want to bring your children along. These activities will all take place in the Expo Hall. Please make sure, however, that they are with a trusted adult at all times. HAPI and Educating for Life will not be liable for any untoward incident that may happen to your child during the event.

SCHEDULE

Write Pretty by Meg and Maddie (8:30am-10am)

Children ages 7 and up will enjoy learning a new skill with fellow homeschooled children Meg and Maddie Barraca.


Handlettering by Maddie (10:30am-12noon)

Join in the hand lettering trend by learning how to write calligraphy. To be conducted by Meg and Maddie Barraca. For children ages 7 and up.

Just Add Water – A Brush Calligraphy class by Marj Liwag (12:30pm-2pm, 4:30-6pm)

Little Miss Printer herself will teach this class for children ages 7 and up.

Inks and Lines – A Tangling class by Marj Liwag (2:30pm-4pm)

Learn about this relaxing art that creates beautiful images from simple patterns.

Challenge Island (8am-10am, 10:30am-12pm, 2:30pm-4:30pm)

Loosely based on the popular show, Survivor, children ages 5 and up will learn collaboration and cooperation the various Challenge Island tasks that they will be given to their tribe. Are they up to the challenge?

Crochet Along with Crafted Crafts by Marge Aberasturi (7am-6pm)

Marge Aberasturi of Crafted Crafts will welcome children ages 6 and up in her booth for beginning crochet lessons. Additional P250 fee for yarn and hook.

MEET THE ART MASTERS by Likhang Bata Creativity Center (7am-6pm)

Likhang Bata Creativity Art Center’s classes are a fun way to introduce the art masters to the children. The classes will be held in Likhang Bata’s booth the whole day.

SAFSOF SPORTS PLAY AREA BY TOPMnl (7am-6pm)

Let your kids move and play in our indoor sports play area! Crawl under arch gates. Swing your club in mini golf. Topple the cans with the soft catapult. Play bowling. Practice targeting skills with the Multi Ring Toss. All using SAFSOF safe rubber foam sports toys. For kids ages 3 years to 12 years.

SMILE TODDLER PLAY AREA (7am-6pm)

Children ages 1-3 will enjoy the various activities prepared by SMILE Group in the Toddler play area.

For more information see Kids’ Activities.


REGISTRATION FEE OPTIONS

For adults:

1. Regular rate (With access to plenary talks, breakout sessions and expo)- P1000 per participant

2. Group rate (Register 4 and get 5th ticket at 50%) – P4500 (Payment should be made as a group, not individually, to qualify for the discount)

3. Expo only (Access to vendor booths only; no access to talks and breakout sessions) – P50

4. Walk-in and on-site payment rate – P1200 per participant

For kids:

Children can choose their activities for a fee of P500. Parents can also choose to bundle the activities (except the toddler play area, which is P500 for the whole day) with the following rates:

Choice of 1 activity – P500

Choice of 2 activities – P900

Choice of 3 activities – P1200

Choice of 4 activities – P1550

Materials for the activities (except the crochet lesson, where participants will purchase hook and yarn separately) are only for borrowing. Each child can only register in one Challenge Island slot to give other participants a chance to enjoy the activity.

To register online: PHC 2016 registration

Check out the Facebook page: 


Get the free app!


In summary…Five reasons to attend the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016:





HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE! 

Letting Siblings Shine in Their Own Way

I used to think it was a great idea that our three boys were taking up the violin together. However, as our oldest son, Elijah, began to show significant ability as a violinist, Edan and Titus got left behind. It hasn’t mattered so much for Titus, who started off much later on than his older brothers. However, the disparity in talent became very evident between Elijah and Edan. As a result, Edan was less inclined to push himself. He liked learning to play the violin, but he fell under the shadow of Elijah.


Not too long ago, Edric and I decided that Edan ought to pursue piano playing. After all, he had expressed interest in doing so, and this would be an area where he could excel apart from his brothers, especially Elijah. Elijah wanted to take it too, but we told him, “You focus on violin for now because you are very gifted at it.”

Later on, we may allow Elijah to take up piano as well. However, we’ve allowed Edan to get a headstart to build his own confidence as a musician. In fact, Edan has been incredible at playing the piano. In the first two months, he exhibited so much progress, his teacher had to find him pieces to play that weren’t part of his piano curriculum. Edan felt accomplished and affirmed in this area of musicality. As a result, he dedicated hours every day to learn his pieces and practice, something he never quite did with the violin. While he still takes up the violin, he now has something that he can do well and better than Elijah at this point in time.

Recently, Edan performed on the piano for extended family and they lauded him for his talent. This encouraged him all the more to pursue piano playing.

Edric and I aren’t trying to advocate our sons’ competitiveness in a negative way. But we also want to give each of our kids the opportunity to shine. We believe they each have God-given abilities that should be explored and developed so they can be a blessing to others and glorify God. However, Elijah can intimidate his siblings and de-motivate them from trying because he is older and more advanced in many areas. Although we don’t compare them, we can tell that they compare themselves with one another. So it’s been healthy for Edan to grow in a skill where he sets the bar.


I’ve also had to tell my kids in the past, “You all have different gifts and abilities. Some of you will be better in one area than others and vice versa. So be thankful when your siblings are good at something. Each of you is good at something.”

I guess the tricky part is discovering what area our kids are good at, which takes careful observation and years of studying what they enjoy and where they excel. And sometimes, it takes some experimenting, like trying out different musical instruments or sports programs to see what clicks with them.

For a long time, I insisted on Edan playing violin because I believed in the cognitive benefits of learning this instrument. However, I also had to recognize that not all children fit the same mold and it’s our job as parents to help them uncover their uniqueness and talents. After all, our children will shine most and enjoy themselves most when they pursue what God designed them to. This means that we have to keep seeking God’s will for our kids and heeding it. It’s very tempting to insist on our dreams for our children, our wants. But our dreams and our wants for our kids cannot be better than God’s plans for them. Therefore, we have to prayerfully go to the Lord for the wisdom to discern what He wants for our children so we can encourage them in that direction.

I’m so thankful to the Lord that Edan has found something that he loves to do and something that he is good at. It brings me deep delight to see him enjoy sitting on the piano bench, engrossed in learning or playing his pieces. Our home is filled with a new kind of music. I also believe that someday, God will use this musical talent for His glory if Edan faithfully practices and hones his piano-playing skill. And maybe, if God should elect it for my kids, all of them will make music together, as a team, with each one providing his or her own unique musicality to the mix!

From Arch Enemy to Friend

My daughter, Tiana, and her cousin, Teegan, are only months apart. Teegan is the big American version and Tiana is the petite Filipina one. There is something about those Arian bones! The difference in height and size between them is significant.

But I don’t really want to talk about genetics. I wanted to write about their journey to friendship.

Three years ago when Teegan came to the Philippines to live, she was excited to be with all her cousins, the majority of whom are based in Manila. Tiana was looking forward to Teegan coming too but when they encountered each other, things didn’t turn out the way we hoped.

Teegan came across very strong and dominant and Tiana was totally frightened by her imposing nature. Unfortunately, Tiana backed away and Teegan was bent on asserting herself all the more in the face of weakness. She semi- terrorized Tiana by scaring her with growling sounds that made Tiana cry. It was her attempt to play but she also knew it wasn’t the kindest thing to do. She intentionally terrorised Tiana to get a reaction out of her.

Thankfully my brother, Peter, and sister-in-law, Jennifer, tried their best to tell Teegan to stop bullying Tiana and they disciplined her when she did. Teegan began to improve.
Tiana also gained greater confidence as we let them play with one another more frequently.

The fighting between became more and more infrequent. It was good for both of them to learn how to adjust to one another. As for me, I had to relax as a parent and refrain from developing a critical attitude towards my niece or her parents. I love my brother, Peter, and sister in law, Jennifer. I didn’t want this issue to come between us. After all, Teegan was only 3 at the time and had a lot of maturing to do. So did Tiana.

For as long as Teegan wasn’t pushing her or hurting her I figured that they would both grow out of this and get along eventually. It was a team effort on the part of all the parents involved, too.

We used positive reinforcement. I would say things to Teegan like, “Tiana likes it when you share with her. That is very nice of you.” Or I would tell Tiana, “Don’t be scared of Teegan. She wants to play with you and be your friend.”

We also implored positive training. We demonstrated to both Teegan and Tiana how to relate to one another and play together.

It took about a year for them to get one another. And lo and behold, the two have become such good friends. They are together as often as possible and they have loads of fun! Teegan is such a sweetheart today. She embraces Tiana every time she sees her and makes her cards for her birthdays. They have make believe games and cute little conversations about girl stuff.

It’s a joy to see them relate to each other so well, especially because I remember the season when they were like arch enemies. I remember my mom sharing a principle to me that has always encouraged me about people and the capacity to change. She said, “Don’t see people for who they are today. See them for who they can become in the Lord.”

Whenever we encounter difficult, trying people, it’s tempting to reject them right away or avoid them to safeguard ourselves. Who wants to willingly make themselves susceptible to getting hurt?! However, not all difficult, trying people are beyond hope. And we may miss out on the opportunity to discover just how amazing these people can actually be, especially when the Lord gets a hold of their hearts.

Teegan changed significantly in terms of gentleness and Tiana changed significantly in terms of confidence because they are two young children who have a relationship with Jesus. He continues to transform them daily just as He will transform every person we know, including ourselves to become the persons he wants us all to be. But we have to believe that with Him in our lives and in the hearts of others there is hope for positive change.

Philippians 1:6 tell us, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” If the work is started by Christ we can be CONFIDENT that He is committed to making our kids, other people and ourselves more and more like Himself. So let’s be encouraged, and let’s not be ones who zone in on the things we don’t like about those around us. Let’s be the ones who recognize that Jesus transforms people!

Why Our Kids Don’t Play Pokémon Go

I don’t want to sound like a legalist who is imposing her convictions on others. However given the number of queries I have received about whether parents should allow their children to play Pokémon Go, I have decided to voice out my personal opinion. This is a take or leave it thing.

For our family it’s not even about whether Pokémon Go is an acceptable game for our kids to play. There will always be a game that becomes a fad that captures the attention of young people and well, grown ups, too who are into gaming.

The majority of apps and online games out there for entertainment purposes are not sinful per se. Rather it’s what these games do to us and don’t do for us that makes them questionable. My brother, Peter, has spoken to audiences about this on numerous occasions because he was a gamer. And he admits that there was a correlation between his productivity as a person, the health of his spiritual life, and his involvement in gaming. The seasons of his life when he was least productive and least on-fire for the Lord were the seasons when he was hooked on online computer games. Today, he gives talks on how to help children break free from addictions to computer games. He is still a techy guy and he still likes games, but he understands which games are unhealthy for him and he avoids these like the plague.

So let’s talk about Pokémon Go

Is Pokémon Go addicting? Yes it is. Just like any other game or activity that hooks a child in to a realm of make-believe, false power, and challenges that have no end, Pokémon Go will certainly capture a child’s interest and consume their attention. But Pokémon Go is addicting the same way other games are. It’s nothing special in this sense.

There was a time when my kids played Minecraft. Somehow, they convinced me that it was an educational game so I allowed them to play it. Not too many weeks into it, my kids started to act distracted and they had the classic, “game eyes” — the glazed over zombie look. In fact, Edan admitted, “Mom, even when I’m not playing Minecraft, I’m thinking about it. I can’t stop thinking about it.” Maybe Edan has more addictive tendencies, but if a game invades the spaces of my children’s tender minds like that one did, it’s clearly not healthy for them. So the boys agreed to delete the game and they’ve been very happy about that choice.

Is Pokémon Go demonic? Some articles have been circulating about the game being demonic. Personally, I don’t have the time to research all the characters behind the game, so I can’t assume they are. However, if there was even the slightest possibility that the influences behind the game could be demonic then why risk exposing my children to it? This isn’t about legalism. It’s about being wise.

The Bible tells us, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8) Will I go around preaching to parents, “Why do you let your kids play a demonic game?” Probably not. But, it’s my personal conviction to keep my children spiritually safe. This might sound extreme to others but our kids understand that my intentions are for their good.

Will Pokémon Go help a child to grow in wisdom, stature, favour with God and favour with man? Luke 2:52 gives us a descritpion of how Jesus matured and flourished as a child. The passage covers the four areas of wisdom (the ability to make choices that please God), stature (the development of abilities and gifts, as well as physical growth), favour with God (learning how to obey God and live for Him), and favour with man (learning to be a blessing to others and get along with others). Since I want what is best for my kids and I want them to grow in Christ-likeness, then I would rather they pursue activities with their precious time that contribute to their total growth from a Luke 2:52 perspective. Time is a priceless commodity and I want my children to recognise that anything they do during their discretionary hours has an impact on the persons they will become. As Galatians 6:7 puts it, “We reap what we sow.”

Whenever there’s a game or app that my kids are interested in, Edric gives them the Luke 2:52 guideline. If our kids can’t truthfully say that the game or app celebrates the areas that God wants them to grow in, then they usually decide on their own that it’s not beneficial for them. But this has to come from a place of conviction — where kids value time enough to steward it and recognise that they are called to Christ-likeness. Sure, they may be unpopular for being clueless about Pokémon Go, but that isn’t a value they live for.

I just asked my sons, Edan and Elijah, “Why aren’t you interested in Pokémon Go?”

Elijah’s reply was, “Well, you chase around mythical monsters everywhere. It seems like a useless activity.” He’s saying this as he is programming an app. So it’s not as if our family is anti-gadgets or technology. Our kids use their gadgets to build things that they can eventually monetize, if God leads them in that direction. And yes, even the time spent doing these things can become an issue so we help them manage this lest that becomes an addiction, too!


Edan’s comment was, “Pokémon Go is mind-dumbing.” Honestly, he doesn’t know enough about the game to assert that. I’ve heard some positive things about it. Kids go outdoors, they learn geography, and collaborate with others, and they become adaptive to new technology. But I’m glad that Edan has an opinion that favours doing more “fruitful” things. After all, there are better ways to enjoy the outdoors. Go play outside, for goodness sakes. Travel to experience geography or research about places and countries. Join a cooperative to do collaborative work with other kids or let kids play board games together. And I don’t think adjusting to new technology is an issue for kids today so that’s not a real plus for Pokémon Go.


There is a sensitive line here that I’m crossing for sure. I might get some hate-comments but I hope you understand that this is not coming from a place of criticism. I don’t think parents are evil if they let their kids play Pokémon Go. However, it is necessary that we all evaluate the kinds of games our children are into, whatever games they may be. Are these adding value to their lives? Are these causing them to grow more in their love for God and for others? These are worthwhile questions to ask about any activity that takes up a lot of time in our children’s lives. Whatever occupies their time is sure to have significant influence and control over them as well.

 

I Just Want to Be With You, Mommy

 Girls, girls, girls. I’m not used to dealing with the drama of daughters. For a good many years it was just boys and their havoc-wrecking testosterone. Yet now that my two youngest girls are moving past the baby-ish stage, it’s evident that I’ve got two “emotionals” on my hand.


Growing up, I wasn’t an emotional child. I was feminine and girly, but I leaned towards processing circumstances cerebrally. Plus, moodiness wasn’t allowed in our home. My mom emphasized this often. She modeled it, too. Furthermore, I compartmentalized my emotions as a post-trauma method of coping with what I went through as a teenager (for those of you who know.) So I always believed that a person should be able to switch off the emo-button.

This has been both a good and bad thing. It allows me to focus on tasks. Yet the down side is, it makes me less sensitive to people’s emotions, which can be problematic when you are a wife and mom, and a friend! Edric has told me numerous times that I need to improve on listening and hearing him out, and not dishing out unsolicited advice, quoting Bible verses and telling him how he should process what he is going through. By God’s grace, I’m improving but I have to make a conscious effort to be more tender and gentle as a wife.

I have to tell myself…Be a blessing. How can you minister to Edric? How can I meet his need?

As a mom, I’m having to balance firmness and softness with my girls. They feel things so intensely and for longer stretches of time than my boys do. Tiana goes crazy over fluffy toys and animals. When I see her clasp her hands and breathe in deeply like something is the cutest thing she has ever seen while squealing in delight, I just don’t get it. Sometimes, I admit that I would love to be able to remote-control my girls into toning down their hysterics.

I remember telling Catalina the other day, “Stop crying. That’s enough.” She wasn’t being fussy, she was just lingering in the sentiment of being slighted by someone. Can a three year old really do this? Switch off? Apparently it’s difficult to do. In between her sniffling, she struggled to say, “Buuut I I I I can’t ssstttooop.” The tears kept falling. And then she just looked terribly adorable. (She is a toughie but like Tiana, she’s emotional).

Thankfully, I have Edric to help me change in this area and a sister like Candy, who is amazing at relating to people. She goes out of her way to make others feel appreciated, loved, and important. She used to be the one to elbow me (literally), or pull me aside and say things like, “Hey, I think you need to call so-and-so and reach out to her.” Or, “Hey, I think that person wants to spend time with you. You should connect with her.”

And I would be like, “Yes, you are right. I should.” She was like my emotional conscience! Well, she’s gone back to the U.S. so I’m slightly handicapped.

Yet, God is using my wonderful, emotional daughters to transform me. Praise God! There’s hope! Just because it’s not in my personality to be tender and soft, I must consider their needs as more important than what’s comfortable for me. This might mean extra hugs and kisses, and a milder tone of voice. It may mean sitting on the bed to read princess stories for the nth time. Or, it may involve extended craft times together. Sometimes it may also mean patiently waiting for them to work through their feelings and then processing circumstances with them after they’ve been given an opportunity to air their thoughts and opinions. Whatever it is, I’ve got to remember that they long to have a relationship with me in a way that no other human person can fulfill and that’s a precious, precious thing.

Plus, it’s not wrong to be an emotional person. I told this to a lady I have been counseling for a couple of weeks. God uses sympathetic and empathetic people all the time. They tend to be great at understanding others which is badly needed in this world.

My girls happen to need more TLC and it’s my role (and privilege) to make them feel secure and special. So last night, when Edric reported to me that Tiana was teary-eyed when she said, “I just want to be near mommy,” as he tucked the girls into bed, a stimulus-response light bulb switched on in my head. Stop what you are doing, Joy, and go to your daughter.

I was in the middle of a big project that I was stressed out about but God encouraged me. Your daughter needs you. She’s your priority.

Tiana is entering into some sort of phase as a girl. The other day I attempted to articulate how I was feeling about it to Edric by saying, “You know, I’m struggling with my role as a mom to the girls, especially Tiana. It’s like she’s looking to me for her sense of identity and I’m not sure what to do. It’s a challenge.”

Well, it doesn’t matter that it’s a phase that confounds me. I have to develop better parenting skills with my girls and I have to adjust. After Edric delivered Tiana’s message about wanting to be near me, I slid the laptop off my lap, got off my bed and peeked into the girls’ room. Tiana and Catalina were snuggled up under their covers but still awake. I went over to hug Tiana and lay by her side.

“Are you okay?”

She shook her head.

“Is something wrong?”

“I just want to be with you.” She had tears in her eyes.

“Okay, I will stay with you.”

She was relieved.

Across the room, I heard a heard a whimpering Catalina who wanted to be noticed. So I picked her up, held her in my arms and brought her to Tiana’s bed where I sat for a while. I stroked Tiana’s head to calm her down and prayed with the girls. When I was pretty confident that they were emotionally settled, I returned Catalina to her bed and kissed them both good night. Tiana requested for an extra hug, which I gladly obliged to. They slept soundly and woke up as their happy selves this morning.

My productivity may have been disrupted yesterday evening but I should never think of my kids as an interruption. They are my priority. Sure, there are seasons when I have to get projects done and I can’t drop everything for them. But as much as possible, and because I control my time, I can certainly postpone things like finishing a keynote presentation if my kids S.O.S. me for attention. And it’s amazing how even little doses of attention and affection deposit big feelings of love in the hearts of my kids.

I was watching my girls jump around playfully this morning and I thought to myself, I’m so thankful and grateful for them. Each of my kids is a gift from the Lord not only because children are so delightful, but because God uses each of their personalities – Elijah, Edan, Titus, Tiana and Catalina — to humble me and teach me how to live and love.

Love is not about what’s easy or comfortable for me. It’s about sacrifice and commitment to meeting the heart-felt longings of others. It’s about seeking to change and improve in order to grow in love. It’s not about controlling others for my benefit. It’s about being a channel of Christ’s selflessness even when it’s so much easier to be self-serving. It’s about waiting for people to bloom in God’s time and in His way, and leading them gently into this becoming.

It’s impossible for me to be this person if Christ wasn’t present in me. Time and time again I see that I am a work in progress as a mom. I want to be and I strive to be better, but often I fall short and it can be discouraging to be confronted with my imperfections. However, my hope is in Jesus who doesn’t let me be, who sends me sweet angels in the form of daughters to show me beauty, to show me love in a form that I’m learning to appreciate and recognise as necessary in this world.

But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

 

 

 

God Finds Our Children

Our children have their own timetables when it comes to their faith journeys. We can do our best to raise them in the ways of the Lord and to teach them God’s word, but at the end of the day they have to make the choice to follow God themselves. Sometimes this reality frightens me. I have to fight the fear and the worry that plague my thoughts with questions like, What if they don’t follow God? What if they fall away from the faith?

Even if Edric and I do our best to model Christianity to our children and teach them biblical truth, it’s no guarantee that they will walk the same path. We can’t force them to, either. Choosing to make Jesus their Lord and Savior is a personal thing. It’s between them and the Lord.

We share the gospel with them as soon as they can understand it, which is usually about 3 or 4 years old. However, we don’t know EVERYTHING that is going on in each of their hearts. Even though we spend loads of time with them because we are homeschooling parents, there’s a lot to them that remains unseen.

This is one of the reasons why we started taking one kid at a time on trips out of the country. Earlier in the year, we brought Elijah with us to Dubai. During our last trip to Australia and New Zealand, we took our second son, Edan. Titus will be traveling with us soon as well.

Elijah and Edan appreciated having our undivided attention when they had their turns traveling with us. In fact, Edan admitted that he enjoyed feeling like an only child! Over the two weeks that we were away with Edan, we got to know him better…

  • The way he thinks – very methodical and concerned about time and details. He always wants to know what the plan is.
  • His favorite things – ice cream, plants, animals, games, good books, playing the piano
  • His fears – the dark, what others think of him
  • What makes him feel special – time with us, words of affirmation
  • His gifts – leadership, charm, bringing people together, responsibility, taking care of others
  • His weaknesses – pride, impatience, easily hurt, harboring grudges
  • What makes him frustrated – conflict with his siblings and blocked goals.

My favorite discovery about Edan happened in Australia, during the Hillsong Conference. Edan joined the kids’ events so he was away from us for most of the conference days. I wondered how he would cope since he was alone and outside of his comfort zone. Well, he did just fine. He made new friends and he enjoyed the services, games, and activities.

I asked him, “What did you learn during Kidsong?”

He was quiet at first (typical Edan) as he processed what he was about to say, and then he replied, “I realized I shouldn’t be ashamed to praise God…like raising my hands when I sing to him and singing with all my heart. I shouldn’t worry about what people think because I should be focused on worshiping God.”

Of coursed I teared as he told me this. Anytime my kids talk about their spiritual lives, I get emotional. It’s the most important aspect of who they are, and I feel so happy every time they trust me enough to tell me about their triumphs and struggles in the faith.

A few weeks after our trip, Edan also told me that he encountered Jesus in a special way during one of our Sunday services. He began by stammering, “I don’t know how to explain it, mom. Something happened. I was sitting in church and I felt God’s presence. I gave my life to Him again. It’s like I really understood what it meant to be a sinner, and that Jesus died on the cross for me, to save me.”

I was so excited, I grabbed him and pulled him close holding him in my arms as we both cried tears of joy. I said several times, “I am so happy, Edan!”

My greatest joy as a mother is knowing that my children love God and want to please God. Someday they will be on their own to make choices without Edric and I around. My prayer is that they will find God and discover how much He loves them, that they will give their lives to Him not because we ask them to, but because they wholeheartedly desire to.

The comforting news is this: God is the one who finds our kids. He seeks them out one by one and reveals Himself to them. As parents, we need to do our part to condition our children’s hearts to be receptive to God when this encounter happens. This involves modeling a love for the Lord, being intentional about discipling them, and providing an environment that encourages them to seek after Him. However, it gives me peace knowing that God loves them more than I ever will. He is more concerned about their relationship with Him that I will ever be.

Therefore, I need to relax as His divine work takes place in their hearts. I can’t control my kids decisions when it comes to choosing to give their lives to Him, but God is in control. He is faithful. He is present. He is moving. He is speaking to our children.

Let’s pray that they will hear Him. Let’s pray they will see Him. Let’s pray that they will choose Him!

“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” 3 John‬ ‭1:4‬ ‭

Big Rocks, Small Rocks – Time Management for Busy Moms

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I wear many hats as a woman. There’s being a wife, a mother, a homeschooling parent, a discipler to women, a counselor, speaker, writer, and every now and then I have “jobs” or projects that I accept for added income. Recently, I’ve been asked by other moms, “How do you manage your time?”

I’m not writing this because I’m the best time-manager. But I have learned, through the years and with the help of my husband, to be more intentional about the activities that I commit to. My mom gave me great advice, too. She said, “Think of your activities as rocks – big ones and small ones. If you were to fill a jar with rocks, you would put in the big rocks first and then fit in the small rocks around the bigger ones. If you do the small ones first, then you won’t have space for the big ones.”

The reality is we are all in various seasons of our lives as women. Some of us are newly married, young mothers, raising older kids, or we are empty-nesters. Each stage comes with certain priorities and stresses. I am somewhere in between one end of the spectrum and the other. My fifth child is nearly 3 years old. She is no longer breastfeeding which means life is starting to feel easier and more “manageable.” Whew!

Whatever stage I find myself in, I have to identify the big rocks in my life (The things that only I can do, that I’m responsible for, that I can’t delegate to others):

  1. My walk with the Lord
  2. My husband
  3. My kids
  4. Homeschooling
  5. Home-management
  6. Exercise
  7. Discipleship / Ministry
  8. Writing
  9. Relationships with family – parents, brothers, and sisters
  10. Helping out with Homeschool Global

What are my small rocks? (The order doesn’t matter for these)

  • Speaking
  • Counseling
  • Jobs and projects that earn income
  • Relationships with friends
  • Hobbies

When my big rocks don’t come first (and in the order I wrote them above), I experience anxiety and stress. There may be occasions when certain needs are urgent – a crying infant who has pooped in her diaper vs. bringing my husband his butong pakwan because he asked for it. This is where both of us have to be flexible and understanding of one another.

I praise God that Edric was supportive through all my pregnant and breastfeeding years. He knew these stages weren’t easy for me, so he adjusted his expectations, too. The other blessing I want to praise God for is that I got to be a stay-at-home mom by the time our third son came along. I had to wait eight years, but it happened nonetheless, which alleviated me of the burden to contribute monetarily to our family. Whatever season I have found myself in, I’ve tried, as soon as possible, to revert to the order of priorities I listed above for my big rocks.

What are your big rocks? Every woman’s are different, but my strong suggestion is that you’ve got God, your husband and kids as first, second, and third. Some weeks ago, Edric and I were counseling a couple that was in bad shape because the husband was caught in infidelity. Although the woman is not to blame for her husband’s sinfulness, they both acknowledged that the demands of her work kept her from prioritizing his needs. Up till this day it’s a struggle for her to quit her job in order to look for one that is less hectic for herself and less damaging to her relationship with her husband. She is perpetually stressed out and exhausted but believes that her job is a “bigger rock” than her marriage. My heart goes out to her. 

I’m not saying that women have to quit their jobs. That’s not the point. The point is that we need to evaluate whether our jobs are worth sacrificing the priorities of spouse and children for. Is the corporate route the best option, for example? I’ve witnessed so many talented women direct their abilities and creativity towards income-generating businesses that allow them the flexibility and time to meet the needs of their husband and children. Therefore it’s not impossible to find something worthwhile to do that doesn’t take the place of our more important relationships.

After settling which rocks in our lives are the heavy-weights, we have to think through how we schedule our days and weeks around those rocks. It took me years to actually come up with a schedule that I could commit to. Thankfully, my husband, Edric, is a stickler for scheduling everything. So, his good influence on me finally rubbed off and I came up with a weekly routine that has been sensible and sustainable. I can’t share my exact schedule here for safety reasons, but I will give you an example of what my schedule generally looks like (the days may not match the actual):

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This schedule is my template for the week. Since homeschooling is like my day job, I safeguard my weekday mornings to get this done (except for the day when they have classes). I used to have my kids in music and pe classes on two different days, plus they attended a morning coop during a separate day of the week. Hardly any quality homeschooling got done as a result. My new schedule gives them one day out of the home for their classes. While they are busy, I take advantage of this day by doing errands (like going to the grocery) and meeting with people.

Some variations in my schedule may happen when there are urgent needs that must be attended to, when I have projects to complete, or when we have social events. But generally, this is it. Interestingly, when I don’t follow my weekly routine and have too many activities outside of the home (especially ones that end late at night), I tend to get sick. So having a schedule that isn’t too hectic keeps my body from breaking down, too. It’s actually necessary for me to keep to predictable cycles. Maybe it’s my age!

Edric and I also share one calendar that is updated everyday. His very able assistant intelligently manages this calendar for us. She is amazing! Keeping one calendar on our phones and devices has improved our communication as husband and wife. I used to get frustrated when he would book engagements and tell me about them the day of! Now I know what to expect and how to prepare myself. Furthermore, I also don’t confirm speaking engagements or appointments that eat into things like family time, meals together, evenings, or Sundays unless I refer to our calendar and run them by Edric first.

If you are involved in ministry, you may want to read on about the other tips that have helped me with time management:

  1. MINISTER ACCORDING TO YOUR LIFESTAGE.

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

We are called to evangelize and disciple others no matter what our lifestage as women. The question for moms, especially those with younger children, is how do I obey God’s purpose for me without compromising my priorities? How can I creatively integrate my lifestage with the call to minister to other women?

From the very beginning of our marriage, Edric and I had a discipleship group. We belonged to one and we started one, too. At one point the group we were handling got too big and people began to get married and have children. This is when their priorities started to change. As for me, I was often pregnant and/or breastfeeding, working part-time, and homeschooling.

At some point, I remember having a conversation with my mom where I said, “I don’t agree with the discipleship model of CCF (our church). It’s not right that young mothers are expected to disciple others when they are caught up with raising young children. Isn’t our primary ministry our kids?”

My mom, in her very gentle manner, listened and offered the best advice. She said, “Why don’t you disciple women in a way that incorporates your lifestage?” Brilliant, mom!

So I started a playgroup with the young mothers in my group. Since the moms could bring their children, they prioritized these playgroups. We would meet in the park and our kids would play while we had accountability and encouraged one another in the faith. This playgroup eventually evolved into a more formal cooperative of moms who now support each other’s homeschool journey. At present, we are on a break but will resume again in September. It has been a great way for me to reach out to the moms in our discipleship group and I’ve been so blessed by the moms who have stepped up to teach and handle classes for the kids.

Another challenge came when Edric and I moved into our new home. This geographic change affected the dynamic of our original discipleship group of men and women. Many of them found it difficult to trek all the way to our side of the metropolis. I felt very discouraged when this happened because our desire was to open up our home for ministry. But the traffic made it impossible to get people to our place in the evenings. Thankfully, I still got to see most of the women during our Homeschool Coop, but I did miss the old days, too, when we could gather as couples and cram together in our apartment.

Not wanting our new home to go to waste, Edric and I started another couples group for neighbors in our subdivision. We may have moved home locations but this didn’t mean that serving God by discipling others had to stop. Getting together with neighbors made it easy to stick to weekly meetings.

It has been almost two years since this group began. We rotate houses to give couples the opportunity to host and facilitate the sessions. The kids are welcome as well which means we don’t have to leave them behind every week.

  1. DO MINISTRY AS A TEAM

Another way to integrate lifestage and ministry is to mount events or speak at gatherings where Edric and I can serve as a team along with our kids. Edric and I share the burden of preparing singles for marriage, reaching out to young couples and families, and talking about homeschooling. Edric also feels called to educate people on financial literacy. So we help out with three big events in the year that are mounted by the Family Ministry of our church – Before and After I Do, Family and Finance, and Parenting — and other events that are related to these topics.

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Whenever our kids can be included in our talks, we let them prepare their own testimonies so they can experience ministering along side us. This simplifies our lives by allowing us to be together while we serve and direct our efforts toward the same things.

  1. DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY NO (IF YOU SAY NO FOR THE RIGHT REASONS)

Sometimes, saying “No” is necessary, even at the expense of disappointing others. I learned this from my father who has laser focus for what he does. As a result he has been very effective at time management and accomplishing much for the Lord. Although it’s hard to turn invitations down, Edric and I realized that there are many people out there whom God can raise up to do a better job that we can as speakers. Even though people may ask us to speak doesn’t always mean we are the most qualified or most prepared to do so. God’s work will never lack His resources, people being one of them. So turning down an invitation doesn’t mean that an organization will be disadvantaged just because we can’t say yes. On the contrary, God will supply the best person(s) for the task.

What’s the criteria for saying, No? Edric has a template with specific questions that his assistant asks the person or organization inviting him or us. Then this data is inputted into a spreadsheet which calculates a percentage rating. Anything below 65 or 70% is low priority. I know it sounds pretty nerdy but it helps to assess whether an invitation is aligned with his (our) goals and focus.

  1. SYNC YOUR PASSIONS AND YOUR PURPOSE

I shared earlier that all of us are called to evangelize and disciple others. However, life stages pose a challenge to this call because some of us are newly married, pregnant or breastfeeding, or raising young kids (and some of us are doing this without any household help). These seasons demand a lot from us.

After I gave birth to my fourth child, Edric encouraged me to start a blog. When Edric proposed the idea he also asked his dad to help me set up my site. Papa (my father in law) came up with the name, “Teach with Joy.” I thought the blog was a great idea! After all, I was feeling more homebound than ever and I wondered how I would be able to reach out to women to minister to them (outside of my discipleship group).

I decided to make this site a venue to connect with the hearts of women all over the world with the gospel of Christ. My desire was to give people a glimpse of what it is like to be a wife, mother, and family that follows Christ. My prayer was that women would respond positively and with openness to the honesty (my mistakes and failures) and to the joy they read about.

Ever since I was young, writing was a passion of mine. My old writings were dark and emotional. However, as I matured in my faith, I wanted to write about what God is doing in our family and share practical insights and tips that can help women be the best version of themselves. As I merged my passion to write with the purpose of ministry, God blessed the effort. I’m humbled to be able to receive countless private emails and messages from women all over the world who want to know more about Jesus, thank me, or connect with me and tell me about themselves. Each email and message is a delight to read and respond to.

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The great thing about blogging is that I’m still accessible to my husband and kids. Furthermore, it has opened doors that I never would have anticipated – to endorse products that celebrate family and to be given the privilege of greater influence.

Recently, Lifestyle TV taped a series of interstitial shows to be aired in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. It’s a show called Joy of Living where I get to interview women about their life journeys. The project came as a surprise. I never expected to receive this opportunity!

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When the producer pitched the idea to me I had two requests. One was that I get to tape at home for most or all of the shows. I didn’t know if they would say yes. But I was willing to let the project go if they refused because I didn’t want to compromise my time with the kids. Well, they approved this request! I was overjoyed! The second request was that I be given the voice to speak about my faith. They let me do so for as long as I didn’t come across as preachy. That was fine with me.

God has given each one of us women abilities and capacities that are unique to us. Some of you have talents that are out of this world amazing! You may wonder if these are going to waste as you prioritize your spouse and children. My encouragement to you is to trust in God’s timetable. Put Him first, your spouse and kids next, and then let Him reveal to you what other aspects of your life need to count as “big rocks.” That’s where good time management begins – by asking the Lord what really matters, seeking to know what His will is, and then obeying it. As you do so He will not waste the gifts or dreams He has given you. They come from Him after all. In His beautiful time and way He will welcome and encourage their emergence for His glory!

If you feel lost because good time management eludes you at present, don’t be discouraged. Don’t lose hope. You are probably a young mom whose got one hand attending to a toddler, another arm breastfeeding a newborn, and you’ve got to cook a meal for your family tonight, and maybe you have a job that you are juggling, too. I’ve been there…It gets easier…Trust me.

Isn’t it a relief to know that God doesn’t expect perfection from us? Instead, He wants us. A deep, intimate relationship with us where we experience His presence, grace, enabling and peace.

In the meantime, let’s do what we can to identify our big and small rocks, exert our best effort, and trust that God will multiply our capacities. He will supply us with the resources and abilities we need to accomplish what He wants us to at this stage in our lives. We need to believe that He wants us to succeed at being good time managers and He will surely help us!